With India aiming to establish an Asian economic grouping in line with the European Union, Government on Friday said negotiations on a bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and the ASEAN is likely to be completed soon.
"Following the agreement reached at the Cebu (ASEAN-India) summit, we hope to soon conclude negotiations on a bilateral FTA with ASEAN", External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said at an Asian Security Conference in New Delhi.
He said India's vision was that of "an 'Asian Economic Community' which would be the driver of growth and economic integration in the entire region".
Such a grouping would be the "third pole" of the world economy after the EU and the North American Free Trade Area, he said.
Observing that the long-term goal should be the creation of a harmonious and prosperous community of nations which would pool its resources to tackle common challenges, he said a virtual Asian economic community was emerging through the FTAs amongst countries of the region.
"It was in this context that we have suggested a Pan - Asian FTA that could be the starting point for an economic community," Mukherjee said.
Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, inaugurating the conference organised by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, pointed to the emerging challenges and said it was a "hard reality" that despite its outstanding progress in many fields, mankind has failed to make the world more secure.